Do you see fluffy, white masses on your English Ivy that previously looked clear, beautiful, and lush? You might mistake this as mildew or fungus, but don’t be so quick to judge- you could be dealing with mealy bugs on your plant that are here to stay unless you take some precautions.
Mealybugs suck the juice from English Ivys, especially the ones that have grown recently. These bugs are found in North America and can infest your entire garden if you are not careful.
These insects are small but hazardous as they suck the sap out of your plants, leaving behind a white wax substance that coats the leaves of your plant.
Everything to Know About Mealy Bugs
It is easy to spot mealy bugs on plants because they have a cottony, white body that appears on the leaves and stems. In the north, these bugs are common in greenhouses and houseplants but are not usually found outdoors. In places that have a warmer climate, these bugs can infest all the crops if not caught in time.
It is easy to get rid of mealy bugs if they have not infested all the plants, but in case they have found their way around your garden, you will have to throw some plants out. If you don’t want to get rid of the plant, you will have to repeatedly treat them as mealybugs do not disappear easily.
When they live on plants for too long, mealy bugs can cause the leaves to become yellow and eventually fall out. Mealybugs also attack flower buds, vegetables, and fruits, causing them to die prematurely. If you are not careful, these bugs can release honeydew, eventually leading to mold fungus growth.
Symptoms of Mealy Bug Infestation
You must know how to spot mealy bugs. Since they are white, these bugs are visually easy to spot. However, if you are unsure, all you need to do is inspect your plant for white cotton bugs.
Make sure that you flip the leaves over and look underneath the leaves, as well as in the folds of the plants and around the growing tips.
Mealybugs are smart insects that can conceal themselves in the crevices of stems and other tight areas so that one cannot spot them easily till they have infested all the plants in your house.
These tiny insects secrete a white material that helps them stay protected from the heat, ensuring they do not lose moisture. Moreover, this substance helps them repel insecticides, making it difficult to kill them.
Many people confuse mealy bugs with scales, but it is important to note that scales are brown and do not travel from one place to another.
Mealy bugs are white, and female bugs can be spotted easily. They usually lay hundreds of eggs within days and then die. Their eggs are white and hatch within ten days. So, you must deal with an infestation as soon as possible before all the plants in your garden get attacked by these bugs.
How to Safely Get Rid of Mealy Bugs on English Ivy
Isolate the Plant
When you notice mealy bugs taking over your plant, you first need to isolate the plant and keep it away from the other plants in your house. If your plant does not have an abundance of white spots yet, you can try pruning the problematic areas and get rid of them immediately.
Of course, you will still need to treat the rest of the plant. This means cleaning and disinfecting the plant before you move it back into your garden.
Removing the Bugs Manually
Once you have isolated the infected plant from other plants in your house, you can clean it manually. All you have to do is take some rubbing alcohol and soak a cotton ball in it. Then, wipe down the leaves and stem of the infected plant with this ball.
Mealybugs can hide easily, so you need to get into every nook and cranny you can find. A Q-tip soaked with rubbing alcohol will make the job easier.
When alcohol touches the bug, it will die instantly. However, this will only happen if direct contact takes place. Do not forget to wipe the alcohol ball down the base, folds, and leaf joints.
You might not see any active bugs while cleaning the part, but once you get to their hiding spot, you will see lots of bugs running around the plant.
This technique must be repeated every day until all the bugs die. Once you are sure that you have managed to get rid of the infestation, get rid of the rubbing alcohol by cleaning the plant with water.
You can use a cotton swab dipped in diluted soap and water, but if you choose to do this, you must be extremely careful- the dish soap must be sufficiently diluted as it can burn the leaves of the English Ivy.
Wash the Plant
To safely get rid of mealy bugs on an English Ivy, you can wash the plant down with the help of a water hose. Ensure to increase the water pressure, as this will make the bugs lose their grip on the plant and get washed away.
Even though this is not the best technique, as the hose might not be able to remove all the bugs, it is something you can try before moving on to other methods. If you do not have a hose at home, you can also use a shower head- the main thing is to water on a high-pressure setting to dislodge the bugs.
Everyone knows that insecticides and pesticides are not good for plants. However, a safe way to get rid of bugs is by using neem oil. Neem oil is a natural fungicide that gets rid of bugs within seconds. Moreover, it can be used even after the bugs disappear as a pest control method.
We love that neem oil does not harm good bugs that are beneficial for plants, such as honey bees. All you have to do is read the instructions on the neem oil and dilute it before pouring the mixture into a spray bottle.
Make this mixture daily and spray it on the infected plants. Within a few days, you will find that the bugs have started to disappear.
You can also use hot pepper wax spray if neem oil is unavailable.
Soap sprays also work as natural insecticides that get rid of mealy bugs as well as their eggs. However, it would help if you used insecticidal soap to get rid of the white section of the bugs and kill their eggs.
These insecticides are not harmful to animals and humans, making them an effective yet safe method of killing bugs. However, you want to dilute the solution before using it, as too much will destroy your English Ivy.
When you go to the supermarket, get an insecticidal soap that aims to kill mealy bugs. Read the instructions carefully before using distilled water to create a diluted mixture. Do not use hard water, as this will make the mixture ineffective.
Once you have prepared the mixture, transfer it to a spray bottle and spray it on your English Ivy. You must ensure that the underside and top of every stem, leaf, and base are covered with the mixture. Create a fresh soap spray every week and continue using it until the bugs die.
Getting rid of mealy bugs can be a frustrating process. In the first few days, you might not notice any difference in the bug population on your plant, regardless of the combination of methods you are using.
Mealybugs are stubborn and do not disappear after one or two treatments. Depending on the infestation, they might take several weeks or months to die.
Even if you don’t see mealy bugs on your plant, keep in mind that they could be hiding in the crevices of the English Ivy. These bugs are smart enough to come up with hiding spots that are not visible to the human eye, but when you are not looking, they will come out of their spots and start multiplying till they completely destroy your plant.
If you find yourself dealing with a recurring infestation, it is a sign that you need to continue your methods for longer. During this time, you can also try to clean around your plant and replace the top layer of the soil so that the mealybugs have less access to the plant and eventually die down.
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.